ISLAMABAD: More than 128 million voters will elect their representatives to the national and provincial assemblies for the next five years on Thursday (today) in what appears to be the most unexpected general election in Pakistan’s political history.
The traditional contest will once again be between the three major parties – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). However, the Imran Khan-led party will contest the election with its own signature bat, unless the Supreme Court declares intra-party elections “unconstitutional”.
This decision means that PTI candidates will participate in “independent” elections.
Some of these religious groups have fielded more candidates than other parties. A number of candidates are contesting from the platforms of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). TLP has fielded even more candidates than any other political party to contest for the provincial assembly.
Elaborate arrangements have been made by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in coordination with various supporting departments including Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).
About 18,000 candidates across the country are in the fray to register voters (128,587,760) for about 855 general seats in the National and Provincial Assemblies.
The Election Commission has announced a public holiday on February 8 to provide voters with an opportunity to easily exercise their right.
The commission has already issued a code of conduct for voters and the media for election day. Polling agents have been instructed to display their license cards.
The Election Commission has said that there will be a complete ban on any campaign within 400 meters of the polling station and it has been added that no candidate, polling agent or their supporters will interfere or obstruct the official work. .
The ECP has classified 17,500 as highly sensitive, 32,508 as sensitive and 42,500 as normal out of a total of 92,500 polling stations across the country.
The Electoral Complaints Commission has completed training of nearly 1.49 million electoral staff for better conduct of the electoral process.
The commission has set up an election town at its headquarters, which is equipped with new technology, to deliver the election results of 855 constituencies to the media as soon as possible.
A comprehensive strategy has been devised to receive election results through WhatsApp, email and fax. The Election Commission has also set up an alternate website to ensure uninterrupted publication of results in case of any disruption.
The Election Management System (EMS) will work even if there is no internet connection. Satellite communication plans have also been created in locations with connectivity concerns.
Under EMS, a photocopy of Form 45 prepared by the Presiding Officer containing the results of the respective polling station is promptly sent to the concerned Returning Officer to collect the constituency results in Form 47, which will be forwarded to him. Also shared with ECP and media.
In case of connectivity issues, results will be adjusted via offline modules.
Security for elections
The government has deployed more than 648,000 security personnel across the country to ensure the safety of voters and conduct fair and transparent elections.
The government has made all preparations for safe, fair and transparent elections.
Out of the 648,000 security personnel, 137,000 are army and paramilitary forces and 511,000 police will be on duty during the elections.
Out of 90,777 polling stations across the country, an average of seven to eight security personnel are manned.
The first level will be the police, the second level will be the civilian armed forces and the third level will be the armed forces.
Special Air Quick Response Force (QRF) has also been formed to deal with any kind of emergency in Balochistan province.
CCTV cameras and other modern devices have been installed to ensure peace and security on polling day.
The Ministry of Interior has established a national crisis information management system, which will monitor the election process 24 hours a day.
The Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFIN) said in a statement, “About 111 political parties have nominated 280 female candidates for general seat elections, which is 4.6 percent of all the 6037 candidates who participated. “
According to section 206 of the Elections Act, 2017 (Election for Elective Offices), every political party is required to nominate candidates for general seats for elective offices, including members of the Majlis, with a minimum number of women candidates. Ensure five percent representation. Shura (Parliament) and Provincial Assemblies, through a transparent and democratic process.